Monday, March 9, 2015

2015 west Greenland cruise with ice sheet climatologist Prof. Jason Box

map illustrating the planned 2015 tour
I'm returning to the 'world's smallest continent'; Greenland for my 21st year of 'climateering'. I'm returning with Hurtigruten and its ice-strengthened ship Fram for the 2nd time. My first Fram tour was an unforgettable, from Iceland to Canada via Greenland, 'in the wake of the Vikings'. I'm especially interested in the current 2015 tour because it includes not only several of my favorite west Greenland, destinations but at least two of my scientific sites, meteorological stations on small islands set in the Uummannaq fjord in front of the western ice sheet's 2nd most productive glacier in terms of ice discharge into the sea.

I sketch below the planned day by day here in advance...

Day 1 - 23 June, 2015
charter flight arrival in Kangerlussuaq, west Greenland. Once outside the settlement, see one of my favorite Greenland landscapes.
Participants are provided transport to the margin of the Greenland ice sheet. En route on Greenland's longest road are views of an arid landscape with possible muskoxen, reindeer, Arctic fox, ptarmigan, large ravens, falcons, Arctic buntings, bees, and flies signings.
After boarding MS Fram, the sea voyage begins with a passage down the world’s longest fjord, exquisite beauty.

Day 2 - 24 June
visit to Sisimiut, Greenland’s second largest settlement, many handicraft vendors are in shops on shore. The Sisimiut museum and book store are much worth a visit.
That evening, I will present: Ice, nature’s thermometer.
En route, it is not unlikely to see humpback wales.

Day 3 - 25 June
Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland's largest sorrounding island, visit to the Godhavn (good harbor) settlement. This place has been on my visit list for more than a decade.
Qasiguiannguit - visit to an historic former whaling village, original destination of F. Nansen’s first crossing of Greenland.
presentation by Prof. Box - On the glaciology of the Uummannaq district
unpacking climate station equipment in the
Uummannaq fjord June 2012

Day 4 - 26 June
Uummannaq - with its heart-shaped mountain, dry climate, sunshine, large icebergs, relaxed pace, is arguably my favorite Greenland settlement.
I have spent more than a month here in visits spanning 2007-2012
I have good friends here I hope to see.

Day 4/5 - 26/27 June, eastern Uummanaq fjord
We aim to visit 2 scientific sites, climate stations positioned in the vicinity of Store and Lille Glaciers. Part of this tour includes an optional visit to the quaint Ikarasak - settlement.

Day 5 - 27 June
We aim to hike to service time lapse camera station overlooking Store Gletscher.
2 h strenuous hike up
2 h on site, likely see iceberge calvings from the front of this massive glacier.
2 h return hike down

Day 6 - 28 June
one of two Uummannaq fjord climate stations
with the peak beside the Ikerasak settlement in the distance
visit to the small Ukkusissat settlement.

masterpiece documentary by Prof. Frederick Lewis film part 1 with introduction by Prof. Box - on artist, explorer, architect, social activist Rockwell Kent - part 1.

Day 7 - 29 June
Around the most jagged Upernavik Island, not to be confused with Upernavik settlement we plan to visit later.
Visit to Illorsuit where Rockwell Kent spent a winter, painting and living with Greenlanders. Illorsuit is another place long on my list.

Day 8 - 30 June
visit to the Upernavik settlement,
a furthest north for the expedition: 72.7869° N. One of the things that stands out here are old whaling relics and an airport runway built between two mountain tops.

Store glacier seen in May 2008 discharging from the inland ice sheet. The sea ice has not yet disintegrated. By the time we visit, the waters should be much more open.
Day 9 - 1 July
visit to the now abandoned mining Qullissat settlement on Disko Island. The site, like all others, is in a unique and dramatic setting.

Day 10 - 2 July
Eqip Sermia glacier, another amazing site. I imagine we will be stationed here long enough for passengers to get a good view of iceberg calving from the front of this tall glacier.
Here is quite some history with French explorer Paul Emil Victor who organized several Greenland and Antarctic expeditions.
visit to Ilulissat (the word means 'icebergs'). From the settlement are often wonderful views of a town framed by icebergs. Views across Disko bay in the evening toward Greenland's largest island can be unforgettable. This is Greenland's 2nd or 3rd largest settlement, with a nice museum and lots of activities including a microbrewery.

Day 11 - 3 July
visit to Itilleq at the mouth of the longest fjord in the world. A past Hurtigruten blog tells us that "Itilleq means “the hollow” and was first founded in 1847 on another island, but was later moved one kilometer east to its present location. Around 130 people live here, who are mainly engaged in hunting and fishing. The church here built in north Greenland in 1930 was moved to Itilleq in 1963.
The village, surrounded by high mountains and glaciers, can truthfully be called the Arctic Circle Village as the Arctic Circle is indeed found only 200 m to the south.
In Itilleq you will be invited for a “kaffemik” which means that you are welcome to visit a local home, talk with the host, and have a piece of cake and a coffee. It is expected to remove your shoes before entering a home. Arts and crafts are for sale in the village (cash only). Visit the library and the school. When conditions permit, we might set up an optional kayak excursion for those interested in exploring the Arctic Circle area from the seaside.
Watch out for a soccer game- Itilleq vs. MS Fram! We need players- and supporters!

Day 12 - 4 July
a second chance to view the longest fjord in the world Kangerlussuaq. The tour re-joins charter planes that return passengers to North America and Europe. My wife and daughter will return to Copenhagen. I plan to stay another 10 days to begin a camp that is to run all summer and monitor the evolution of ice reflectivity along the western ice sheet.